The Classical Roots of Western Literature
An introduction to the methods and some major texts of comparative literary study. It will focus on the Greco-Roman tradition, asking what it means to call a work a "classic": it will consider the outstanding characteristics of this tradition, how it arose and gained influence and attempt to place it in a global context. Readings will be divided into three topics: Epic Heroes (centering on Homer's Odyssey), Tragic Women (in ancient and modern drama), and the "invention" of modernity (Aeneid). Selected additional readings in non-Western literatures and in influential critical essays. Two lectures, one preceptorial.
Masterworks of European Literature
This course seeks to discover (or rediscover) a series of significant works in the European tradition, and also to ask once again what a tradition is. The focus will be firmly on the close reading of particular texts, but discussions will also range freely over large questions: What is a classic, what difference does language make, can we think both about world literature, in Goethe's phrase, and about the importance of national and local loyalties? No easy answers promised, but astonishing adventures in reading guaranteed.
Thinking Translation: Language Transfer and Cultural Communication
Professor/InstructorDavid Michael Bellos
What is translation? What is a language? So essential and widespread is translation today that it has become a central analytic term for the contact of cultures, and a paradigm for studying many different aspects of our multilingual world. This course will consider translation as it appeared in the past, but especially as it constructs everyday life in the contemporary world. It will look at issues of anthropology, artificial intelligence, diplomacy, film, law and literature that involve interlingual and intercultural communication. Students should acquire an understanding of the problems and practices of modern translation.
A study of classical myths in their cultural context and in their wider application to abiding human concerns (such as creation, generation, sex and gender, identity, heroic experience, death, transformations, and transcendence). A variety of approaches for understanding the mythic imagination and symbol formation through literature, art, and film. Two lectures, one preceptorial.
Interdisciplinary Approaches to Western Culture I: Literature and the Arts
Professor/InstructorDenis Feeney, Daniel Heller-Roazen, Yelena Baraz
This course, taken simultaneously with 217, forms the first part of an intensive, four-course (216-219) interdisciplinary introduction to Western culture. Part I extends from antiquity to the Middle Ages. These courses bring together students and several faculty members to discuss key texts, events, and artifacts of European civilization. Readings and discussions are complemented by films, concerts, museum visits, guest lectures, and other special events. Students enroll in both 216 and 217. Three lectures, two discussion sessions.
Interdisciplinary Approaches to Western Culture I: History, Philosophy, and Religion
Professor/InstructorMelissa Buckner Reynolds, Eileen Adair Reeves, Benjamin Charles Atkin Morison
In combination with 216, this is the first part of a year-long interdisciplinary sequence exploring Western culture. Students enroll in both 216 and 217. All meetings are listed under 216.
Interdisciplinary Approaches to Western Culture II: Literature and the Arts
Professor/InstructorYelena Baraz, Desmond P. Hogan, Yair Mintzker
This course, taken simultaneously with 219, forms the second part of an intensive, four-course (216-219) interdisciplinary introduction to Western culture. Part II extends from the Renaissance to the modern period. These courses bring together students and several faculty members to discuss key texts, events, and artifacts of European civilization. Readings and discussions are complemented by films, concerts, museum visits, and other special events. Students enroll in both 218 and 219. Prerequisites: 216-217 or instructor
Interdisciplinary Approaches to Western Culture II: History, Philosophy, and Religion
Professor/InstructorNatalie V. Prizel, Simon Alexander Morrison, Denis Feeney
In combination with 218, this is the second half of a year-long interdisciplinary sequence exploring Western culture from the 15th to the 20th centuries. Prerequisite: 216-217 or instructor's permission. All meetings are listed under 218.
Theories and Methods in the Study of Religion
An examination of thinkers (e.g. Pascal, Hume, Marx, Emerson, Freud) and filmmakers (e.g. Hitchcock, Kurosawa, Friedrich) who distinguish between a way of life they regard as sinful, oppressive, or deluded and a process of change in which the alleged defects are overcome. The course provides an introduction to modern debates over what religion is and how it affects individuals and societies, for good or for ill. The course also concerns film as a vehicle for ethical reflection and social criticism. Two lectures, one preceptorial.
The Worlds of the Middle Ages
Professor/InstructorHelmut Reimitz, Jack Boulos Victor Tannous
We will begin in 476 with the fall of Rome and will end in 1453, with the fall of New Rome (Constantinople). In between, we will trace the different trajectories that the area stretching from Iceland to Iran traveled along over the course of this fateful millennium. We will meet Northern barbarians, Arab armies, Vikings, Crusaders, Mongols, and the Ottomans; we will witness the birth of Islam and medieval Islamic civilization; Charlemagne's creation of the Western Roman empire; will see clashes between Popes and rulers and Caliphs and Muslim religious authorities. We will do all this and more, all the while asking: what were the Middle Ages?
Great Books in Buddhism
Professor/InstructorStephen F. Teiser
Close reading of great stories in the formative period of Buddhism, 50 BC to 400 AD. Examines Buddhist literature against the background of religious doctrine and cultural history. Explores themes such as: previous lifetimes, rebirth and cosmology, genres of Buddhist narrative, parables, personal quests versus social justice, emptiness, and changing conceptions of the Buddha. Two lectures, one preceptorial.
East Asian Humanities I: The Classical Foundations
Professor/InstructorBrian R. Steininger, Martin Kern
An introduction to the literature, art, religion, and philosophy of China, Japan, and Korea from antiquity to ca. 1400. Readings are focused on primary texts in translation and complemented by museum visits, films, and other materials from the visual arts. The lecturers include faculty members from East Asian studies, comparative literature, art and archaeology, and religion. Students are encouraged to enroll in HUM 234 in the spring, which continues the course from ca. 1400 into the 20th century.
East Asian Humanities II: Traditions and Transformations
Professor/InstructorErin Yu-Tien Huang, Franz K. Prichard
An introduction to the literary, philosophical, religious, and artistic traditions of East Asia. Readings are focused on primary texts in translation. Lectures and discussions are accompanied by films, concerts, and museum visits. Lecturers include faculty members from East Asian studies, comparative literature, art and archaeology, and religion.
Introduction to African Literature and Film
Professor/InstructorWendy Laura Belcher
African literature and films have been a vital (but often unacknowledged) stream in and stimulant to the global traffic in invention. Nigerian literature is one of the great literatures of the 20th century. Ethiopian literature is one of the oldest in the world. South Africans have won more Nobel Prizes for Literature in the past forty years than authors from any other country. Senegalese films include some of the finest films ever made. In this course, we will study the richness and diversity of foundational African texts (some in translation), while foregrounding questions of aesthetics, style, humor, and epistemology.
Exploration of cross-cultural constructions of sickness, disease, health, and healing interrogates our basic ethical, moral, and political positions. Our healing and disease models derive from specific cultural assumptions about society, gender, class, age, ethnicity, and race. Categories of disease from one culture can compromise ethical positions held by another. We pursue the moral implications of a critique of medical development and the political and ethical implications of treating Western medicine as ethnoscience as well as universal truth. One 90-minute lecture, one 90-minute class.
Topics in German Drama and Theater
Exploration of specific problems in the history of German theater, drama, and dramatic theory. Topics may range from the baroque drama to the importance of Brechtian theater for modernism, and from the dramatic representation of political conflicts to contemporary theater and performance studies.
Topics in Global Race and Ethnicity
This seminar uses the prevailing analytical tools and critical perspectives of African American Studies to consider comparative approaches to groups, broadly defined. Students will examine the intellectual traditions, socio-political contexts, expressive forms, and modes of belonging of people who are understood to share common boundaries/experiences as either (1) Africans and the African Diaspora outside of the United States; and/or (2) non-African-descended people of color within the United States.
A systematic study of problems and concepts connected with political institutions: sovereignty, law, liberty, and political obligation. Topics may include representation, citizenship, power and authority, revolution, civil disobedience, totalitarianism, and legal and political rights. Two lectures, one preceptorial.
The Literature of Medieval Europe
An introductory survey of major representative Latin and vernacular texts in modern English versions, including hagiography, romance, lyric and philosophical poetry, allegory, religious and secular prose, and drama. Special attention will be paid to Christian transformations of classical traditions and to the emergence of the Continental vernaculars of the late Middle Ages. Lecture and preceptorials.
Topics in Ancient History
Professor/InstructorMarc Domingo Gygax
A period, problem, or theme in ancient history or religion with critical attention to the ancient sources and modern discussions. The topic and instructor vary from year to year. Format will change each time, depending on enrollment.
Philosophy of Art
An examination of concepts involved in the interpretation and evaluation of works of art. Emphasis will be placed on sensuous quality, structure, and expression as aesthetic categories. Illustrative material from music, painting, and literature. Two lectures, one preceptorial.
What is Vernacular Filmmaking? - Rhetoric for Cinema Studies
Professor/InstructorErika Anita Kiss
In this course we will study films that address global audiences yet ground themselves in particular, local, vernacular sources of artistic creation. Our focus will be on three exciting postwar cinematic movements (Italian Neorealism, Iranian New Wave, the Danish Dogma 95), but we will also discuss parallels in American filmmaking. Familiarity with Homer's Ulysses, Virgil's Aeneid and Shakespeare's Hamlet will be helpful since they serve as the frame of reference for many of the examined films.
Love and Justice
Professor/InstructorEric Sean Gregory
Analysis of philosophical and theological accounts of love and justice, with emphasis on how they interrelate. Is love indiscriminate and therefore antithetical to justice, or can love take the shape of justice? What are the implications for moral, political, and legal theory? The seminar also considers recent efforts to revive a tradition of political theology in which love's relation to justice is a prominent theme. One three-hour seminar.
Freud on the Psychological Foundations of the Mind
Professor/InstructorSusan Leah Sugarman
Freud is approached as a systematic thinker dedicated to discovering the basic principles of human mental life. For Freud, these basic principles concern what impels human thought and behavior. What moves us to think and act? What is it to think and act? Emphasis is placed on the close study and critical analysis of texts, with particular attention to the underlying structure of the arguments. Two 90-minute classes.
Beyond Crisis Contemporary Greece in Context
Professor/InstructorKaren Renee Emmerich
This course examines an emergent historical situation as it unfolds: the ongoing financial, social, and humanitarian "crisis" in Greece, including the "refugee crisis." It offers a comparative approach to current Greek cultural production, through literature and film of the past decade and writings drawn from history, anthropology, political science, economics, news sources, and political blogs. We also probe terms like "crisis," exploring how language shapes our understanding of events and how our perceptions of an unfamiliar culture, history, and society are mediated not just by linguistic translation but by market forces and media spin.